15 Biggest Takeaways From Week 5 NFL Action
NFL Week 5: What Did We Learn?
Before Week 6 of the NFL gets underway, let's take a look at the biggest things we learned from Week 5 action.
A few players were able to break out of their slumps, while some broke into the national spotlight with career-defining games. One player had a lengthy streak snapped while another reached a milestone that he, nor any other player, would strive to achieve.
Week 5 taught us a lot about which teams are elite in the NFL, as well as which have come falling down from their once-lofty pedestals. There was a lot shifting around on power ranking boards throughout the NFL following Week 5 action. Injuries also played a huge part in the storyline for Week 5. Two of the best wide receivers in the game went down with injuries, and one is not slated to return until the start of the 2014 season. This injury hit is so severe that it has completely destroyed the team's chances of reaching the playoffs. Maybe next year, as the saying goes.
On any given Sunday, anything can happen. Week 5 was clearly evident of that — there were unforeseen upsets and terrible performances by some of the league's best players.
This upcoming weekend, however, gives an opportunity for these faulty teams and players to right their wrongs. Marquee match-ups include the Green Bay Packers traveling to Baltimore to take on the Ravens and the Patriots hosting the Saints with a healthy Rob Gronkowski to help Tom Brady get back into form.
Here are the most significant things the football world learned from Week 5 of the 2013 NFL season.
15. Terrelle Pryor Excellent When Healthy
Terrelle Pryor played so well in the Raiders' 27-17 win over the Chargers on Sunday night that they released backup quarterback Matt Flynn. Pryor was 18-of-23 for 221 yards and threw a first-quarter touchdown. Oakland, however, made a gamble cutting Flynn, who is an ample backup for Pryor. Should Pryor get hurt or suffer another concussion like he did in against the Denver Broncos in Week 3, the Raiders will be suffering at the position.
14. C.J. Spiller is Relevant Again
Fantasy owners of running back C.J. Spiller have become irate with the fourth-year man out of Clemson. Three weeks removed from a nine-yard game against the New York Jets, Spiller was able to run for 66 yards on eight carries, finding the end zone once. He still isn't the player many hoped he'd be this season for the Bills, but he's starting to look better every week.
13. No End In Sight For Giants' Nightmare
How has this happened to the New York football Giants? Didn't they just win the Super Bowl two seasons ago? Well, the team is 0-5 to start this season and there very little upside in sight. Quarterback Eli Manning leads the NFL with 12 interceptions and has found the end zone just eight times this season. The Giants' defense ranks last in the league with 182 points allowed, 19 more than the second-worst Jacksonville Jaguars. They allowed Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles to beat them up at home, and this week they face the 3-2 Chicago Bears. There won't be a one in the win column this weekend for the Giants.
12. T.Y. Hilton's Coming Out Party
Colts' quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton tore apart the once-impenetrable Seahawks defense on Sunday. Hilton led all receivers on the field with 140 yards on just five catches, two of which went for touchdowns. He had been quiet the two weeks prior, racking up a total of 58 yards over the span. Hilton, however, broke out of his slump against one of the best defenses in the NFL on Sunday. He has emerged not only as a legit target for Luck but also as a top receiver in the league.
11. Ray Rice Easing Back Into Form
Ray Rice has been battling a hip injury throughout this 2013 season and has yet to put together a game to his usual standard. Rice is starting to get there, however. He ran for 74 yards with two touchdowns and caught six passes for 28 yards in the Ravens' 26-23 win over Miami on Sunday. He's still one of the best running backs in the NFL, though Sunday marked his first game over 40 yards rushing this season.
10. Colin Kaepernick Learned Game Management
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick definitely has not played with the pizzazz he possessed last season. He did, however, discover how to use organized and methodical game management on Sunday, which was evident in the 49ers' 34-3 win over the Texans on Sunday night. Kaepernick threw just 15 passes total, six for completions. He did not have a completion throughout the second and third quarters. What he did that was impressive is he used the 49ers' running game to drain the clock and took advantage of the lead his defense gave him early on. The 49ers combined for 177 yards rushing on 36 carries and earned the convincing win despite Kaepernick throwing the least amount of times by far this season.
9. Andy Reid And Alex Smith Are Fantastic Tandem
The Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL's worst team a year ago, is now 5-0 on the season. They have a new quarterback and head coach to thank for that. Alex Smith and Andy Reid have proved to the NFL that they are a winning tandem in Kansas City. While many might have already said this, the Chiefs are legit. Their first huge test, however, will come in four weeks when they travel to Denver to take on the division rival Broncos. If Kansas City hopes to win the AFC West, it will need to win the match-ups with the Broncos this season.
8. T.J. Yates Deserves A Game As Starter
The stench from quarterback Matt Schaub's performance on Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers probably still hasn't left the confines of Candlestick Park. He now owns the NFL record for most consecutive game with a pick-six with four, which came in the first quarter of this weekend's game. Backup quarterback T.J. Yates entered the game at the end of the third quarter, and although he didn't do too much better than Schaub, he deserves to start a game for Houston. Schaub has thrown the second-most interceptions this season with nine, three behind Eli Manning. Houston is now 2-3 and there is something clearly wrong with Schaub. Give Yates a chance.
7. Detroit Lions Are Pretty Bad Without Calvin Johnson
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was a late scratch before their Sunday game with the Green Bay Packers. The absence of the best receiver in the game showed that the Lions' passing game misses him dearly when he's gone. Quarterback Matthew Stafford completed less than half his passes, and he did find the end zone until there was just 2:06 left in the game. The Lions' leading receiver was tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who hauled in four catches for 59 yards. The Lions offense clearly looked terrible without Johnson, making his health the most important factor for Detroit throughout the rest of this season.
6. Tom Brady Is Human
The New England Patriots' 13-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals marked the first time in 52 games Tom Brady failed to throw a touchdown pass. We have confirmed: Tom Brady is human. New England's offensive struggles could be attributed to the heavy rain coming down in Cincinnati. Factor in that the Patriots recovered two of their own three fumbles in the game, and you'd think Brady could have found the end zone at least once. Nope, Brady is not the machine we once thought.
5. Jimmy Graham Is Still Other-Worldly
There's no telling how many receiving yards and touchdowns tight end Jimmy Graham will end up at the close of this NFL season. He's on pace for over 2,000 yards; he currently ranks first in the NFL in receiving yards with 593 and yards per game with 118.6. Graham is also second with 37 receptions and six touchdowns. He's playing like he's from another planet. Of course, he has a phenomenal quarterback in Drew Brees, who knows a thing or two about finding his tight end — he once formed a fantastic tandem with Antonio Gates in San Diego. If you have Graham on your fantasy football team, you're more-than-likely winning all your match-up this season.
4. Geno Smith Is Growing Up
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith became the second rookie quarterback ever — first since Carson Palmer in 2003 — to complete more than 75-percent of his passes, throw three touchdowns and earn a win on the road in the same game. The Jets' college scouts are now probably basking in their glory uttering the phrase, "Geno is who we thought he was" — a play on the infamous words from Dennis Green. Simply put, Smith led the Jets to a fantastic road win in Atlanta on Monday Night Football. Considered the best QB in last year's NFL Draft, Smith is starting to play like his college self — without the 500-yard passing games. But hey, maybe one of those is in his future. Not for a long, long time, though.
3. Indianapolis Colts Emerge Into NFL's Elite
The Indianapolis Colts have now defeated the two teams voted most-likely to win this year's Super Bowl in the preseason: the 49ers and Seahawks. On Sunday, Andrew Luck led a thrashing of Seattle's defense, throwing for 229 yards and two touchdowns during the Colts' 34-28 win. Both this win and Indianapolis' 27-7 win domination over the 49ers in Week 3 have the NFL universe convinced that the Colts are to stay toward the top of every power ranking following this weekend's play.
2. Atlanta Falcons' Season Is Probably Over
Poor Atlanta Falcons. Once considered a top-dog in the NFC during the preseason, Atlanta has diminished to a group of football players crawling for their lives. The Falcons suffered a huge upset to the New York Jets on Monday night, and they lost their best receiver in Julio Jones for the remainder of the year. Their running back Steven Jackson, who they acquired during the offseason in hopes to revitalizing the run game, has been suffering from a hamstring injury and does not have a return date in sight. You have to feel for Tony Gonzalez, who came back for a 17th season after playing last year as a final hoorah. He will not earn his first ever Super Bowl Championship, he'll just have to settle for a first-ballot Hall of Fame election.
1. Tony Romo Is A Great Quarterback, Until It Matters Most
Tony Romo had the game of his life in an epic battle with Peyton Manning on Sunday. Romo threw for 506 yards and five touchdowns and went blow-for-blow with the game's best QB for most of the game. With the game tied at 48 and 2:39 left on the clock, Dallas began a drive to try and go ahead and give Denver its first loss of the season. Those hopes came crashing down when Romo tossed an interception on a pass intended for Gavin Escobar, ending the Cowboys' drive. Manning did his thing, draining almost two full minutes off the clock while taking the Broncos down the field and into field goal range, where Matt Prater won the game as time expired.
I give Romo all the credit due for having the game he did. Not many quarterbacks came keep pace with Manning in such a hard-fought football game. But he faltered late in the fourth quarter. Great quarterbacks don't do that — they're clutch. Romo needs to ditch his untimely interceptions before I can even put his name and the word clutch in the same sentence.